Since two local authorities decided to endorse e-cigarettes as a tool for people to quit smoking, the number of smokers in the Middlesborough area has fallen.

Hartlepool and Stockton councils agreed to fund smoking cessation services until 2020 in a joint contract with North Tees and the Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

In the past year, the Stockton authority contributed £359,495 to the scheme while Hartlepool dished out £204,885 in support.

At a recent meeting, Stockton cabinet member for adult social care and health Councillor Jim Beall told attendees that the number of adult smokers in the region has fallen, coinciding with what he called is a “targeted approach”  to encourage smokers to try vaping.

In praise of e-cigarettes, he said:

“The good news is smoking figures are coming down through medication and e-cigarettes – that’s something to celebrate.”

He also credited local health teams for being ahead of the curve when it comes to e-cigarettes in wanting the local authority to use them “as a tool to help people quit.”

Public health workers for Stockton are now looking at implementing a “three tier approach,” which would involve  existing treatments and more modern support through pharmacies, apps, books and e-cigarettes.

Meanwhile Sunderland has the second highest number of adult smokers in England, and the region’s Tobacco Alliance is to be reformed to tackle the steady rate of smokers in the area. In July, Sunderland’s Health and Wellbeing Board met to discuss the “priority” of the Tobacco Alliance, in light of 2017 data from Public Health England.

That data showed Sunderland’s adult smoking rate had risen to 22.7 percent from 18 percent the previous year, with just Kingston upon Hull ahead as having the most smokers among its population.  The findings show Sunderland’s smoking rate is significantly higher than the national rate for England which stands at 14.9 percent.

It is unclear if or how vaping will have a role to play in ensuring the reduction in the smoking rate in Sunderland, as it has done in nearby Middlesborough.